Lawmakers Differ Over Security in Wake of Arizona Shooting

If one lawmaker has his way NHL stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom won't be the only folks in Washington doing their work surrounded by Plexiglas. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., intends to introduce legislation similar to a measure he presented in 2007 to enclose the House Chamber in a "transparent and substantial material" to prevent people from tossing explosives or shooting onto the floor.

Such an occurrence wouldn't be unprecedented. On March 1, 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists entered the House visitors' gallery and fired nineteen shots at members and staff during a vote. Five representatives were wounded in the attack.

Since that incident, and several others involving firearms and explosives, the Capitol has strengthened its security apparatus. It now screens all visitors at an underground security checkpoint located in the Capitol Visitor Center. People who want to watch House and Senate floor proceedings from a visitors' gallery have to go through an additional set of metal detectors before entering the chamber.

One senator thinks that increasing the amount of security for rank and file members isn't the best idea. "I would not want to see every member of Congress walking around with security," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Tuesday, "I think it isolates you from the people you represent. It's not the kind of country we are."

Leahy is no stranger to constant security. He received a detail from the Capitol Police after becoming a target of an anthrax letter allegedly sent by government scientist Bruce Ivins in 2001.